Tips to Help Families Openly Discuss Estate Planning

Dorian Martin Health Guide

    My parents took care of their estate planning many years ago, and I know that my cousin will be serving as the executor of their wills. Fortunately, my brother and I have a good relationship so I anticipate that we won’t have a family feud erupt when Dad passes away. However, I have seen how caregiving can rip families apart so that they are no longer speaking when the loved one passes away. I can only imagine the emotional struggles that come about when a family hasn’t dealt honestly and openly with the impact of their parents' estate planning prior to being faced with the difficult rite of passage of a parent's death.

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    To avoid inheritance headaches, More magazine published a list entitled, “How to Prevent Your Own Inheritance Headaches,” in the September 2008 issue. I hope that you find these tips as helpful as I did:

    -         Discuss estate planning while your parents are still capable (before dementia or another illness happens).

    -         Share any concerns you may have with siblings to your parents, especially if you are being named the executor.

    -         Suggest a third party executor if you have concerns about the person you parents are considering.

    -         Also consider using family mediation as a way to ensure that everyone agrees on the proceedings that will happen when both parents have died.


    In addition, the article included a way to start the conversation: “I’m doing some financial planning, and it would help to have a sense of how you’re handling your affairs.” That’s one conversation everyone needs to have.

Published On: February 09, 2009